king of bankruptcies
Photo: guardian

Bankruptcy filings can be a complex and stressful process for companies and individuals alike. However, some high-profile businessmen have made careers out of buying and restructuring bankrupt companies. Of these so-called “bankruptcy kings,” one name stands out for his long and controversial history in this area – Wilbur Ross.

The Career of Wilbur Ross

Wilbur Ross is an American billionaire investor and former banker who has been described by Forbes as the “king of bankruptcy.” He is known for buying distressed or bankrupt companies, restructuring them, and then selling them for a profit.

Ross began his career working at Rothschild Inc. in the 1970s and eventually started his own firm, WL Ross & Co., in 2000. Through his private equity firm, he has invested in a range of industries including steel, textiles, chemicals, and coal. Some of his most famous deals have been in steel and textiles.

In the early 2000s, Ross consolidated a number of troubled steel companies into the International Steel Group. After restructuring the business, he sold it in 2004 to Mittal Steel for $4.5 billion, earning a substantial profit.

Ross also created the International Textile Group in 2004 by merging two bankrupt textile companies, Burlington Industries and Cone Mills. As with steel, he was able to turn around the struggling textile makers before selling the combined company.

Other Major Bankruptcy Deals

In addition to steel and textiles, Ross has orchestrated other major bankruptcy deals. In 2002, he helped restructure LTV Steel which emerged from bankruptcy as Acme Steel. He also restructured many troubled coal firms in the early 2000s, creating the coal company International Coal Group.

More recently, Ross was involved in restructuring Greece’s debt after the 2008 financial crisis. He earned the nickname “The King of Bankruptcy” from peers for exploiting these types of complex and troubled assets.

Commerce Secretary Under Trump

Given his background in bankruptcy turnarounds, Ross brought a unique perspective when he was appointed U.S. Secretary of Commerce under President Trump in 2016. While Commerce Secretary, he worked on trade policy and economic growth initiatives before resigning in early 2021 after President Biden took office.

Throughout his career, Ross has shown a talent for resurrecting companies from bankruptcy and making them profitable again. His decades of deals have cemented his reputation as a respected bankruptcy investor and earned him the moniker of “The King of Bankruptcy.” While controversial at times, he has had an undeniable impact restructuring myriad companies across several industries.


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